Is that the sound of a train comin' round the bend in South DeKalb?

Is that the sound of a train comin’ round the bend?

I'm beginning to hear the faint sounds of a train comin' round the bend in of all places the proposed city of Greenhaven in South DeKalb. I'm about to explain how that might happen with special kudos to Greenhaven proponents and especially some of our DeKalb Delegation.

People in South DeKalb have been waiting for almost 40 years (the east-west corridor started service in 1979) while being, until recently, one of only two counties to pour taxes into transportation and hopes of MARTA.

Many people moved to South DeKalb with the promise that MARTA would be coming down I-20. But year after year passed with no progress. Indeed, in 2017, the latest proposal has MARTA going from the Clifton corridor to Atlanta and from Indian Creek to Stonecrest mall (bypassing almost all of I-20).

Proponents of the proposed city of Greenhaven have been pushing the MARTA issue since they began in 2014 because transportation stimulates economic development. In addition to moving people rapidly, a lot of construction and retail occurs around MARTA stops in its transit oriented development, which means JOBS. So, in 2016, the Greenhaven Business Alliance Inc., chaired by L. Dean Heard, formed to conduct research and promote business in South DeKalb.

Heard is a partner in Magnitrans, a private firm that has been planning for the last few years to bring MARTA down I-20.<br/>

Greenhaven proponents are excited to see their efforts begin to come to fruition with the help of some of our legislative leaders in the Georgia General Assembly.

On March 15, 2017, the DeKalb Delegation voted to approve an additional half-cent SPLOST only if MARTA would guarantee that the funds would go to rail (not bus or maintenance). MARTA agreed. Commendations go to state Reps. Pam Stephenson, Vernon Jones, Howard Mosby, Doreen Carter, Karen Bennett, Dar'shun Kendrick, Michelle Henson and Billy Mitchell (who is on the MARTOC committee).

Previously, the DeKalb Delegation had voted that they would support the half-cent tax only if the funds went to MARTA projects in DeKalb County. Why is this important?

As many of you may know, Emory and the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] have been exploring the possibility of annexing into Atlanta. Indeed, Emory has purchased property to position itself to be able to do just that, leading many to believe they are on the verge of taking action. By adding the condition that "funds can only be for rail," the DeKalb Delegation is forcing Emory and CDC to decide whether they want to stay in DeKalb and get the funding for rail or leave DeKalb, in which case I-20 emerges as the clear front-runner to get the MARTA funds for rail. Either way, DeKalb County wins because DeKalb gets a rail project and transit oriented development.

Kudos to the delegation for showing leadership and for not settling for South DeKalb to get the usual bus or maintenance but no rail.

What surprised me is that the vote was divided between North DeKalb representatives who voted against rail only and South representatives who voted for it. If North DeKalb representatives vote against a bill that would ensure rail in South DeKalb, then it furthers the claims of those who are skeptical about the North supporting projects in the South.

Everyone agrees that South DeKalb has large undeveloped areas that represent DeKalb County’s future growth and potential. Then, let's support policies like MARTA down I-20 that will help the southern part of the county. In the end, it benefits all DeKalb County.

Kathryn Rice, Ph.D., chairs Concerned Citizens for Cityhood in South DeKalb.<em>Kathryn Rice, Ph.D., chairs Concerned Citizens for Cityhood in South DeKalb.</em> Kathryn Rice, Ph.D., chairs Concerned Citizens for Cityhood in South DeKalb.